FLHS Student Protestors: ‘Only Change Will Stop Us’

A Black woman with short hair, wearing swimming goggles on her forehead and a bandanna around her neck, holds up a sign reading "I Can't Breathe".
FLHS alumna Theresa Hayden (2020) takes a break after being sprayed with tear gas at the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Fort Lauderdale on May 31, 2020.
Photo courtesy of Samuel Muselaire

“Black Lives Matter” is more than just a chant to the students at Fort Lauderdale High School.

Students and alumni attended multiple protests throughout the month of May and June to stand with the movement and make a change.

“[I] felt the need to. It’s only so much you can do on social media, a protest shows that we can come together and defend each other through times like this,” said class of 2020 alumnus Isaiah Dumaine.

“It helped me realize that we can make a change, whether it’s ten people or one hundred. What matters is…one day we will get the equality we’ve been fighting for all these years.”

As the protest continued, another FLHS alumna, Theresa Hayden, showed she was willing to get hurt if it meant standing up for what’s right.

“Eric Garner, Javier Ambler, Manuel Ellis, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd’s last words after their brutal and extremely unlawful deaths at the hands of our law enforcement were ‘I Can’t Breathe’,” Hayden said. She was willing to take the risk of not breathing, too: Hayden was sprayed with tear gas multiple times during the protests.

“The tear gas canisters are hot and at my second protest I threw one back. It gets my adrenaline going and further proves my point that tear gas can’t stop us, change will,” Hayden said. 

Savannah Lucas (12) was eager to see black women leading one of these protests.

 “One of the biggest things I liked about it was that it was led and organized by black women,” said Lucas after she attended the Broward County Democratic Socialists of America protest at Huizenga Park in May.

“Black women are usually disregarded or left out in these types of things so it felt good to see them at the front line,” said Lucas. 

Bianca Conley (11) was another FLHS student who attended the protest to raise awareness. She wanted to express her right of freedom to make a change.

“The Black Lives Matter movement is a serious issue that not only the African American community can raise awareness [about],” said Conley, “everyone should because the more people the bigger [the] impact.”

FLHS’s Black Student Union advisor and teacher Mr. Reggie Jackson joined State Representative Shevrin Jones and many other community leaders in one of the protests in  downtown Fort Lauderdale. 

“As the advisor of the Black Student Union, I was made aware of many students’ intention to protest, and I informed them that this was not a school event but in that respect they should speak with their parents and if they feel that this is a cause worth standing behind, then so be it,” said Jackson.

“Many of our greatest achievements throughout history were because young people led the way. Like Alexander Hamilton said, ‘Those who stand for nothing fall for anything, and what better cause to stand for than the one fighting for your right to live.”

Categories: Community

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